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Posts Tagged ‘entertaining tips’

Last week, I traveled to Milwaukee for the first-ever Willow House National Conference.

To say it was amazing, fantastic, inspiring and fabulous doesn’t even do it justice.

Conference is a place to plug in and recharge, to network with great people who understand the concept of building relationships and helping one another, and to get great ideas to jump-start our businesses for the fall season.

While I was at conference, I noticed that what was offered by the corporate staff and other consultants was basically the same things we want to offer guests in our home.

A Warm Welcome

I don’t know about you, but I like to feel welcomed when I am visiting someone. A genuine smile and a warm hug or handshake goes a long way in making someone feel welcome. Even a  “hello, I’m so glad to see you,” when said honestly makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Acknowledge people in a way that says “I remember you, my friend.”

Servant Mentality

“Won’t you come in and make yourself at home?”

“How can I best assist you?”

“Is there anything I can offer you?”

All those questions, whether spoken or implied, mean that you are there to provide assistance and help to someone. I can’t tell you how many times I was offered care and support through similar words. When people come to your home, offer them no less. Let them know you are there in the moment to make them feel at home.

Encouragement and Acceptance

We all need encouragement and acceptance. Even if the words aren’t spoken, we need to know that other people accept us for who we are and support us in our pursuits. It is human nature. The people at conference have this down to an art. We can take a lesson from them. When people come to your home are they accepted and encouraged? Your job as a host is to make sure they are. A few words  spoken from the heart offering encouragement or acceptance can mean the world to someone.

Joy

These conference attendees know how to have fun. In class, at general session or even celebrating to a 1950s themed party, they celebrate, embrace joy and have a great time. When you  entertain guests, do you have a go-with-the-flow and enjoy the moment attitude or are you flustered and frustrated that things didn’t follow your perfect party plan? Learn to let go and enjoy the guests in your home at the moment they are there. They won’t remember if the bread got a little too toasty or the punch wasn’t the exact shade of pink you wanted or if the centerpiece candle refuses to stay lit. What they will remember is if you set the tone for a fun evening by surrendering your plans and just enjoying the evening and them.

Entertaining your Heart Out

Give it your best and then enjoy the results, whatever they may be. Laugh, hug, cry, smile, be present in the moment, dream for the future and celebrate what makes each person unique and special.

Happy Entertaining!

Shanna

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cutting boardI am in love! And yes, Hubby is aware of the infatuation.  This love affair is with the next best thing since sliced bread – crock pot liners!

OK, so I can get pretty excited about some very simple things but I just tried the liners for the first time yesterday and absolutely loved them. No mess, no scrubbing out baked on food. Just lift out the liner, toss, and rinse out the crock pot. So quick and simple.

When you are entertaining at home, make your prep work as quick and simple as possible. It will take less time and energy to clean up and give you more of both to devote to enjoying your guests.

Line pans with foil or parchment paper before baking (depending on what you are making) for easy clean up afterward.

Use resealable plastic bags for mixing messy ingredients, marinating meat or veggies. You can mix just about anything in a bag my massaging it. It also works great for squeezing our frosting and fillings. Just fill the bag, seal, trim off a corner and you are ready to roll.

Invest in at least one quality piece of heavy-duty cookware and one top-drawer piece of cutlery. The cookware will not only cook better and faster, it will also be easier to clean up. The cutlery will make your prep work go faster and you might even have more fun doing it.

Have a couple of good cutting boards. Keep the one you use for raw meats separate from the one you use for everything else. When you purchase a cutting board, look for one that has a gutter around the edge – it will keep runaway juices contained and save time on clean up.

Keep a bowl handy in which you place all peelings, trimmings, etc., in when you are doing prep work. It saves cleaning out the sink or scraping piles off the counter later.

Use paper cupcake liners to grease pans, or save the wrappers from cubes of butter to use when you need a pan greased.

Make clean up after the party simple, too, by having adequate containers out for guests to toss their garbage. If you are entertaining outdoors, you can even have a container to collect flatware, plates and glasses.

Think about the things you can do that will save time on clean-up and make entertaining even easier. If you have a favorite mess-free tip, please share it here!

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Although most of us don’t think about it, entertaining at home can really be broken down into three main areas: inspiration, preparation, and presentation. Although very different, each category has equal importance in your entertaining success.
Today we’ll focus on inspiration. It boils down to “what’s for dinner?” What are you going to serve the people you are entertaining?
The type of event or celebration will help narrow your selections. Choosing a theme also narrows the field and helps create some guidelines. Themes are a fantastic way to entertain, but we’ll talk more about those another day.
Inspiration can come from many different areas. Maybe you have been to a party and saw or tasted something there you want to try. Maybe you are under the gun to host a family event – like a family reunion. If you like food magazines or collect cookbooks, you’ll find a lot of ideas and inspiration there. The Food Network and websites such as allrecipes.com can also provide some great inspiration.
Take a look around you. What is fresh and in season? Let it inspire you! This time of year it is so fun to entertain with all the fresh goodness that abounds from gardens.
Inspiration doesn’t have to be difficult. Have fun with it and see how much your guests enjoy the fruits of your labors!
What is your favorite way to find inspiration in the kitchen? Please feel free to share your ideas!

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red-mugsMemorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance in honor of those who have died in service to our nation.

If you will be hosting a Memorial Day gathering, keep it simple and respectful. Fly the flag and think about incorporating red, white and blue into your celebration. Some very easy decorations can make a big impact and tie everything together.

Many also look at Memorial Day as the beginning of summer and barbecue season. So in light of that, here are 10 fun guidelines  for condiments.

1. Do not fear the family-sized bottle of ketchup. Unless you are serving dignitaries, your guests will be happy with the big bottle.

2. You can please most of the people all the time if you have a good assortment of mustards.

3.  Plan to have mayonnaise handy at all times. Yes, it’s salty, and yes, it is bad for you, but everyone likes a dab now and then.  And don’t substitute salad dressing!

4. Find your own special sauce and serve it proudly. This could be something you make from scratch or a blend of pre-made favorites. Create a great sauce with plain yogurt, finely chopped cucumber, garlic and lemon juice.

5. Nothing tops a hot dog better than relish.  Have an assortment of  sweet relish, yellow relish and onion relish on hand.

6. Pickles are important and not everyone likes the same kind. Have an assortment of dill and sweet and make sure you identify them!

7. Have plenty of salsa – it goes fast!

8. Grill the onions for your guests’ burgers. The grill is already hot and it just takes a minute.

9. Explore several barbecue sauce recipes, find your favorite, and make it your signature. You may even offer small bottles of it to your guests as parting gifts.

10. Don’t be afraid to serve coleslaw. It’s not just a side dish. Try it on your hot dog.

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend and keep your entertaining simple!

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